Recovery is a Five Letter Word

Mentally and physically, this recovery has been tough. I’ve read that some runners experience post-marathon depression (seems a bit dramatic, huh?), and I think that’s what’s going on. Vancouver seems like it was years ago, not weeks. I don’t even feel like a runner.

I was in an especially weird funk last week. My hamstrings were sore from the stupid Sassy Fit games on Sunday, so I backed off from running and focused on yoga. It hurt to walk, so running seemed like a bad idea. I was annoyed about taking the extra time off, and I felt lazy and lethargic.

I was also incredibly emotional last week. John and I watched New Year’s Eve Friday night, and I had to hold back tears at least five times. It’s not even that good of a movie, but every sad or touching part moved me to tears. I blame PMS. I also blame PMS for my non-stop snacking. I couldn’t stop shoveling food in my face.

In an attempt to beat the recovery blues, I decided to sign up for the Manguson Park 15k, which was on Saturday.

I had no expectations for the race, but I was looking forward to running with other people in a race setting. I woke up at 8:30 and had plenty of time to get ready and get to the race on time, but I somehow managed to get to the race four minutes before it started. I rushed to the bathroom, picked up my bib and quickly fastened it, and made it to the start with 20 seconds to spare. Even though it was only a 15k non-serious race, I did not like the rushed, stressful start.

The race started and my legs felt pretty good, but my breathing felt hard. It was also warm and the sun was beating down. I should clarify that “hot” to me is over 60 degrees. According to my phone, it was only 64 degrees at the end of the race, but it felt like 80+. I was hot within a few minutes, and I realized I forgot to put on deodorant. Oops.

Early in the race I pulled up behind a guy who was also running the 15k. I thought he would be a good pacer, so I ran behind him until he started walking at mile 2. I passed him and continued on.

After the first loop (the race was three 5k loops), I knew I was in bad shape. My heart rate was high and breathing was tough. I changed my watch view so I couldn’t see my pace. I told myself to slow down and run by feel. I shifted my expectations and viewed it as an opportunity to run 9 miles. It became a training run, not a race. My run sucked, but I’m proud of myself for not freaking out and doing my best to enjoy the run.

At the end of the second loop, there’s a spot where you can see people who are behind you, and I saw the guy I had passed at mile 2. His shirt said “I heart hot moms.”  OK, Megan. I don’t care how fast you run this; just don’t let the guy in that stupid shirt pass you.

That became my only goal. I didn’t care how many people passed me as long as that guy didn’t. And he never did.

With 20 yards to go, an older lady sprinted past me and yelled “C’mon!” It startled and scared the hell out of me, but I tried to kick it up a notch into the finish. I finished in 1:25:20, which is a 9:11 min/mile, which was my marathon pace in Vancouver.

As my title indicates, recovery is a b***h. It’s frustrating and humbling. While I had no expectations for the 15k, I didn’t expect it to be that tough. I didn’t expect to run fast, but I expected to be at least a smidge faster than marathon pace.

The last few weeks have been a struggle and there is a big part of me that is freaking out since I start Skagit Flats training in just a few weeks. I read through my training logs and confirmed that it generally takes about 4-5 weeks before I start feeling normal. So I’m going to trust in the recovery process and tune out the crazy person in my head.

I’m also going to focus on running with joy. I’m not in training right now, so I’m going to run however far I want at whatever pace. In fact, I’ve decided that I’m going to run “naked” (without my watch) for the next couple of weeks. That way I can just run based on feel and not stress at how slow I’m going.

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